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   RE: Why do we write standards?

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  • From: Bill dehOra <Wdehora@cromwellmedia.co.uk>
  • To: XMLDev list <xml-dev@ic.ac.uk>
  • Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1999 09:07:17 -0000

    :  To summarize more briefly, I suggested that there are 
    :  two paths to
    :  standardization (which we all agree is a good thing):
    :  1. The big-bang approach, where we try to do everything 
    :  at once and
    :     either fail or succeed spectacularly.
    :  2. The incremental approach, where we do a little at a 
    :  time without
    :     getting too far ahead of implementors.
    :  Both of these head for the same place, but I think that 
    :  (1) has failed
    :  so often during the 1990s (i.e. every W3C attempt at an 
    :  HTML standard)
    :  that we should think harder about (2).

There is another aspect to standardisation. That is acceptance of the
standard. It's not enough to get together and generate standards and only
worry about rates of development. The standard must be easily implemented.
This, I think is the reason IP and HTTP were accepted: they were relatively
simple protocols to implement. To get a standard accepted, ease of
implementation needs to be designed in, that is, complicated, hard to use
standards are in some sense invalid. I see some standards that are verging
on the Baroque. CSS comes to mind, maybe CORBA. CSS is way ahead of anything
anyone is implementing right now and the features are being piled on for

Obese standards are invalid.

Ease is desirable because it allows people to get things done. I worry about
XML, when I see 'added extras' like metadata, namespaces, XSL, CSS, XLink
crawling out of the woodwork. Not that the goal of these standards isn't
desirable. But they serve to make XML complicated and difficult to


Bill de hOra

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